Category Archives: Shaktipat

The Importance of the Ashram’s Birthday, by Swami Nirmalananda

10-close-e1297979380284-150x150I have two birthday celebrations every year: the day I was born into this world and the day that I was born into the Self, my Shaktipat anniversary, plus on Saturday I will be celebrating the Ashram’s birthday.  This is the second time this year I’m celebrating the birthday of a yoga organization.  Master Yoga’s 21st birthday in May was a big event, yet I’m hoping our Saturday event is even bigger — our Japathon!  You can participate from wherever you are… [click for more information]

I also celebrate other birthdays, including my Guru’s birthday and Shaktipat anniversary, plus the birthdays of those in the family I was born into, as well as those wonderful beings I birthed and raised.  I’ve also birthed four not-for-profit organizations (working with many other dedicated yogis):  Yoga Alliance and YES (the San Diego yoga teachers association) as well as Master Yoga and Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram.

Consider what happens when you tell others, “It’s my birthday!”  People get excited and want to take you out for a decadent-something, or maybe create time to share some enjoyable pursuit with you.  On birthdays, people want to pursue their favorite pleasures, usually with other people joining them so it is more pleasurable.  About 30 years ago, all this stopped working for me.  I now realize why — I was no longer pursuing pleasure.  Yoga had showed me a greater goal than mere pleasure.  For years I couldn’t figure out what to do, so I ignored birthdays (mine and others). It was frustrating to those close to me.

Now I delight in birthday celebrations, mine as well as others.  The difference is that I now understand what we’re celebrating — we’re celebrating life.  In celebrating an individual life, we are celebrating the whole of life, which is the dance of “Siva being “Sakti, being this world and all in it.  As great as that is, birthday of a yoga organization is different.

The birth of a person is into limitation, the exploration of individual identity.  Shree Guru Gita says it this way:  “Birth is into not-knowingness, spellbound by Maayaa’s worldly dance…”[1]  But the birth of an Ashram begins the liberation, a process that benefits not just one individual but all who yearn to know the highest.  For this reason, the Ashram’s birthday is deeply meaningful to me.  Regardless of the level of practice you choose (poses only, meditation only, a mix of both or more from our many offerings), the whole banquet is available to you.  Whether you come to one of our three locations or you dial in from home, you are stepping through Ashram’s doorway.  Ultimately, this is a doorway to your own Divine Self.

birthday bright candles-wikimedia.orgI find a birthday to be a great time to consider, “How am I doing?  Am I accomplishing the purpose of my life?  Am I still on target?”  This turns my attention to purpose for which the Ashram exists.  This an annual evaluation looks back to see how we doing are so far, and looks forward to see how will we fulfill our purpose in the future. Our purpose is eloquently stated in the Ashram’s founding documents:

to engage in & teach the worship of Parama”siva, the all-pervasive Divine Reality, focusing on finding and experiencing the Divine within the individual human being.

Now housing the consolidated programs for Svaroopa® yoga and Svaroopa® vidya, we are even more able to help you find and experience your own Divinity.  Whether you are focused on the poses and breathing or on the meditative practices, you are focusing on finding and experiencing the Divine within you — which is you.

Thank you for your Birthday Gifts, the donations that support the Ashram’s work.  Click here to donate.

Please join us in our Japathon! on Saturday morning at 10 am (Eastern Time)!  You can do it independently or join in our conference call — click here for more information.

With love and blessings,

Swami Nirmalananda


[1] Shree Guru Gita, verse 10, rendered by Swami Nirmalananda
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Concentrated & Continuous Grace

By Rukmini Abbruzzi

RukminiYou’ve chosen to have Grace in your life.  If you haven’t, you wouldn’t be reading this!  You also get to choose how much Grace you have in your life. How often and how deeply you experience your own divine Self depends in part on your own practices.   And it also depends on how much support you allow yourself to have from Swami Nirmalananda, from her presence and from her teachings.

Swamiji offers programs that support you in the way that works best for you.  Would you like to take a weekend away from home, and dive deep into your own bliss in the presence of and with the support of Swamiji and other yogis?  Then the concentrated Grace of a Shaktipat Retreat might be perfect for you.

Or, do you prefer to stay home, and receive Grace in a continuous flow over the course of a year?  Then a year-long course like the I Am “Siva course may be just right for you.  You can choose between them because both are coming up soon – or you might even want to do both!

Shaktipat Retreat
Align yourself with Grace at the Conference, then dive even deeper and immerse yourself in Grace at the Shaktipat Retreat, October 6-8, 2013.  With the openings you receive at the conference, you’ll be profoundly prepared to receive Shaktipat Diksha from Swamij Nirmalananda, the initiation that awakens Kundalini, the Divine power that dissolves your limitations.

Yogis share the results of their recent Shaktipat experience:

“This is my second Shaktipat and I received gifts from the first of inner knowing…and a higher sense of integrity that have remained with me. This retreat reinforced those as well as leaving me with an ability to be present in each moment more fully even when the moments are challenging. Also I received great joy at both Shaktipats which not only stays with me but is cumulative! I can’t wait for my next Shaktipat!”  – Tirtha Richards

“I had no earth-shattering changes.  However, I feel my meditation is clearer, and I am happier, more patient and more at peace.  Not earth-shattering, but certainly worthy results!” -Beth Richardson

This Retreat is not only open to yogis who attend the conference! All the practices of the retreat prepare and support you to receive Shaktipat.  And Shuchi Cilley and I will be there to assist Swami Nirmalananda, and to support you, every step of the way.

I Am “Siva: Year-Long Programme
Our multi-media format allows you to choose a level of participation that works with your budget for both money and time:

option #1 — monthly articles
option #2 — both monthly articles and audio recordings
option #3 — monthly articles, audios & phone calls with Swamiji and the rest of your study group
option #4 — monthly articles, audios, phone calls, PLUS the July weekend retreat

Whew!  That’s a lot of options!  All designed to fit your budget for both money and time…

Whether you are a new yogi, experienced Svaroopi or are coming from another tradition, this year-long course lays the foundation for your studies in Svaroopa® Vidya, your experiential knowing (vidya) of your own Self (svaroopa).  Swamiji created this course to take you beyond mere understanding to the experience of the Divine Reality that is your own Self.

Yogis share their experience of taking a year-long course:

“I think the year-long structure allows ample time to really draw as much as one can out of the articles/recordings, before the next set comes along. The year-long format provides the opportunity to savor and integrate.” – Purna Schmidt

“I like the consistency of the yearlong program.  The spacing of the article, recording and talk fits nicely in my busy life.” – Pooja (Erica) Andersen

FREE CALL:  If you’re interested in the I Am “Siva course, join Swamiji for a free intro call October 16: 7:00-8:30 pm (Eastern Time).

Or perhaps you want Concentrated and Continuous Grace.  You can of course, have it all!  When do you not want Grace in your life?

Questions?
If you have any questions, or if you’d like to enroll in a Shaktipat Retreat or the I Am “Siva course, please contact the sevites on our Enrollment Team at enroll@svaroopavidya.org.

Shaktipat

by Theresa Morrison

Swami DarshanWhether concrete or subtle, yogis receiving Shaktipat from Swami Nirmalananda experience a range of openings, expansions, and revelations that are real and profound.  Please enjoy these yogis’ descriptions of Shaktipat from recent Retreats with Swamiji.

Robin Blankenship describes her experience of Shaktipat as the movement of energy through her body:

“My Shaktipat retreat was a very deep and intense experience. I now feel Kundalini go all the way up into my head during yoga practice and meditation. It used to be blocked at my neck and shoulders. [I] experienced Shakti in my body as a source that is ever changing and moving. I experienced it as a moving part that is now unstuck.  I continue to have access to this experience of Shiva as constant change.  It is helping me to accept change… in my life and not be afraid of it.”

She summarizes that the experience of Shakti moving freely throughout her own body had a direct effect on her spiritual practice and allowed her to have new insights into the nature of movement and change in her daily life.  This has allowed her to become unblocked and unstuck.

France de la Fontaine shares some particular experiences of blissful from her recent Shaktipat Retreat:

“On Sunday morning, I woke up and I felt pure joy and peace, no fears. I imagine bliss this way — since, in meditation, I can have a glimpse of this state… the other thing that I felt on that Sunday morning was the impression that the world was in my belly. It was very special.”

France goes on to describe that Shaktipat opens her heart and helps her to “progress on the path of illumination.”

Beth Richardson recounts her own experience of progress.  She writes, “I feel my meditation is clearer, and I am happier, more patient and more at peace.”

Whether momentary or enduring, these experiences of clarity or Self offer glimpses of what is possible. They encourage further seeking and practice.

Susan Daniel shares, “The Shaktipat Retreat continues to provide motivation to prioritize a daily meditation practice.”

Dhananjaya King says that he has found a new “willingness to stay in the present rather than constantly looking toward future events.”

Shanti Ellan Catacchio describes a beautiful transformation that she attributes to the effect of Shaktipat in her life:

“We have taken down a fence that was in front of our cottage, and I have moved from hiding-out in the back yard, out of sight, to the front yard, enjoying the view and people walking by.  My Mother put that fence up 50+ years ago.  I am more comfortable in my own skin than ever before.  I am more aware than ever before. [I am] closer to Self.”

The particular effects of Shaktipat manifest differently for each individual, but there is an undeniable power in this transfer of energy from Guru to disciple.  Swamiji gives Maha-Shaktipat, the awakening of your own energy of transcendence, Kundalini.  Whether direct (in person) or indirect (through an intermediary, such as a photograph), this transmission of Shakti is a life-changing experience.  It deepens each time you receive it, all through the loving act of Grace, given by the Guru.

The Shaktipat Retreat, offered several times each year by Swamiji, is an intensive, nurturing experience designed to prepare each individual to receive this initiation most fully.  Through chanting, meditation, and a series of teachings each student is given the tools they need to understand and open to the Grace.

Swamiji confers Shaktipat three distinct times over the course of each retreat weekend, likening the energetic transfer to that of a burning candle sharing its fire with one still waiting to be lit.  Amongst other things, this powerful gift leads individuals to a fuller realization of themselves, empowering them to live in the experience of their own Self as Shiva.

Grace Dissolves Fear

by Judy Goodkin

Judy

Judy

As I drove up the long winding, tree-shrouded driveway to the Temenos Retreat Center on Saturday evening, I realized my fear was absent.  I’ve been looking at my fear a lot lately, seeing it as my knee-jerk reaction to so many of my life’s events, major and trivial.  So when the announcement came about the celebration of Swami Nirmalananda’s Shaktipat anniversary which would include an extension of her sannyasa ceremony, as well as an honoring and celebration of administrative transitions, my fear began to set up roadblocks to doing what I knew I wanted and needed to do.  I remembered Swamiji’s essay on what it meant to be here now, and knew I had to be in my guru’s presence.

So I acknowledged my fear & drove to West Chester anyway.  Warmth enveloped me as soon as I stepped from my car.  I joined a group of Svaroopis on the patio, some had driven down from 2 hours away and some were “locals”, like me.  More would arrive to join those already in attendance for the Shaktipat weekend.  Hugs, sparkling eyes, warm greetings all around.  Everyone so filled with gratitude and relief to be here now.

The evening began.  Chanting.  Then the satsang:  Swamiji telling us what we needed to hear, all of us hearing what we needed to hear. Swamiji talked about the guru disciple relationship, “a relationship beyond words”.   I thought, yes, the need to be here now!

She spoke of Baba and illustrated with a story, his teaching, “Only he who obeys can command.”  We were also there to celebrate Swamiji’s resignation from being President of both SVA and MYF , so she can return her focus to serving as Master Teacher.  We also honored Amala and Shuchi, the new Presidents of the SVA and MYF Boards, who do what they are asked to do with full hearts.  I couldn’t help but notice I was accepting this transition without a ripple of fear, only joy.

Shuchi and Amala, looking to me like two sisters, began abhishek, the bathing of the Nityananda murti as we, the onlookers, were bathed in the chanting.  Chanting along with a recording of Baba’s voice! What a blessing to hear his slow, deep rumble, Om namah shivaya.  Om namah shivaya.  What a blessing to be here now.

The chanting continued as Swamiji had her head shaved.   I was in the presence of an Enlightened being.  What sheer joy.

Then came the opportunity to place flowers on Nityananda’s murti.  The chanting of Om Guru Om vibrated quietly as we bowed before Nityananda and then before Swamiji.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, I bowed before Swamiji.  How can I ever express my gratitude for her Grace, which she gives so freely? How to explain the sweet space that is present when my fear is absent?  When I experience moments without fear, there is clarity, and I feel only love and joy.  That night, for me, was a night without fear.  There was only love and peace and the guru’s Grace.

Full to the Brim

Image

Karuna

by Karuna Beaver

There’s a theme to our last two blogs – opening boxes and finding delights within. Sarvaata wrote about opening and then filling boxes of sacred ash from India.  Sharada wrote about opening packages from India, filled with beautiful things for the Amaya® shop.

I, too, received a box this week, and I experienced the same delight and depth of feeling. The box I received was filled with things to either be used or set out for purchase at the Shaktipat Retreat this weekend in Boise ID, my hometown.

Last summer, I received an invitation to host a Shaktipat weekend. This was the first box I opened – my inbox! To my delight, Swamiji and the Ashram chose Boise as one of only two Shaktipat locations outside of Pennsylvania in 2013.  While the Boise Svaroopa® teachers have been talking up this wondrous event to our students for months, our registrations came in slowly. Until about three weeks ago, we wondered if we would have enough participants to hold the retreat.

But then, another gift arrived in my inbox – a message from Rukmini that Swamiji had committed to the weekend. After that, everything became easy – well, easier! The fence-sitters began to commit. I began finalizing all the details on my end to host the event.  Just when I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with these details and a by the honor and responsibility of having my beloved teacher and Guru visit, the package arrived.

Inside were white woolen asanas, creamy pale yellow meditation shawls, journals just waiting for sweet descriptions of meditation to fill their pages. As I carefully unpacked the boxes to make sure all the contents had arrived safely, I was aware that I too was “unpacking,” unpacking the concern about the external details, unpacking insecurities about having Swamiji visit. As I lovingly put the contents back into the box, I too felt “filled up.” I had an experience of my Self as vast, timeless, unconcerned about the future. I knew that just like the box, I was full to the brim.

How Can I Say Thank You? Posted on June 1, 2012 by Ashram

On my Shaktipat Anniversary – by Swami Nirmalananda

How can I say thank you
When the one who might express such gratitude
Doesn’t exist
At least, not separate from the one who might be thanked.
There is only Muktananda.

I have looked for Him,
Today I looked so I could thank Him
For giving me to me,
But there is no me.

The one who thought “me”
Who saw only pain
Felt only need,
Yearned only for God,
This me was not me.
This me was wisps of fog, tendrils of thoughts
Swirling in the vastness that always was.
That always Is.

I was always I, even when I didn’t know.
I was I then as I am I now, even when I didn’t know.
There is only one I. Muktananda.

He knew.
But there is no He separate from me.
We played at being two,
Me in need, I played my part well!
Me in need, He seeing beyond the me.
I miss Him so.
Now what do I do?

I sit.
Sometimes I breathe
In the space between the breaths
And the space the breath moves through
There — Is.
That which moves and that through which movement moves — Is.
Yogis call that —That.

I could call That, Muktananda,
But I would be manufacturing a form
To pin His name on, when He was so much more
And still is.

What can I do?
I can only serve.
And chant.
In the service and in the song
I create a me to love He.

The forms of the One dance in the love
And the longing
And the gratitude

Who hears me when I say, “Thank you, Baba.”
Only me, for He is not separate from me.
Muktananda…
If you would like to celebrate Swamiji’s Shaktipat Anniversary with a gift, please click here.

© 2012 STC Inc, no usage without written permission

March 2012 Shaktipat Retreat. Posted on March 28, 2012 by Theresa Andrea Kenney

My Shaktipat experience was profound. After years of daily meditation, the Shaktipat Retreat dramatically shifted the depth and focus of my experience. I’ve been told that each religion points to the same place; we only have to find the one that speaks a language we can understand in order to gain access to that which we seek. The Siddha path has been generously laid before me, and though I’m new to this lineage, it feels familiar, like home. Swamiji and Rukmini were excellent teachers, who guided and supported me through unprecedented openings. The questions I had were answered with clarity and deep understanding. I feel newly rooted in a path whose direction I could not have anticipated, but for which I am very grateful.